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Book Review: Timothy Other: The Boy Who Climbed Marzipan Mountain by L. Sydney Abel (*Review Copy*)

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Title: Timothy Other: The Boy Who Climbed Marzipan Mountain
Author: L. Sydney Abel
Published: 29 September 2014
Publisher: Summer Solstice
Twitter: @lsydneyabel


Timothy Other’s origins are a mystery. He has lived all his life at the orphanage where he was abandoned as an anonymous infant. The Dreams and Hopes Orphanage, run by the magnanimous Mr Penny, is a happy place, filled with love. But Timothy’s world crumbles when Mr Penny dies. The orphanage is repossessed by the bank, and comes under the draconian rule of the horrid Mr Sterner (with his ‘custard-crease smile’) and the scaly-skinned Ms ‘Fishy’ Finn.

Timothy escapes from the orphanage hidden in a basket on a removals lorry, which is then put aboard a cargo plane. The plane crashes, hurling Timothy into a strange land and a bizarre, surreal adventure.

Review (Original review amended)

I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in return for an honest review.

This is a fantasy adventure story for young adults/Adults, full of villains, magical creatures and adventurous heroes.

The story follows the tale of 12-year old Timothy Other. He was left outside an orphanage as a baby and was living a pleasant life there until the orphanage comes into the possession of the shady Mr Sterner and his cohort, Ms Finn.

I have to admit that I had some difficulty getting into the book at first. The style of writing is very descriptive and 'wordy' which made it somewhat difficult for me to see past the words and into the story itself. In the first few chapters, it sometimes felt that the the meaning of a sentence was slightly lost and there were definitely some sentences that I found myself reading several times in order to take in the full meaning. However, once I got through the first few chapters I became immersed in a fantastic adventure story that older children would love. The author obviously has a great imagination!

There were a few niggles that I had with the story. The first issue was on page 39 where there is a bit of repitition in referring to the pilots as "those poor broken bodies". I am aware that I am being pedantic with this point, however I am not sure there was any reason why Timothy would know them to be "broken" when he did not see the pilots following that specific event

Another issue that really stood out to me is the fact that some of the dialogue is maybe not what I would have expected to see within the book and I fully accept that this is based upon my expectations and is not necessarily a criticism of the book. Timothy appears to use a lot of sarcasm or mocking humour in a way that sometimes seems quite unpleasant. The author has kindly explained to me that whilst Timothy does use sarcasm or mocking humour, this is because he is still coming to terms with the fact that he is having a conversation with two unusual and unexpected characters. Sarcasm is his way of dealing with the situation. The author also explains that sarcasm is often used in the real world between friends and I accept that this manner of speech has been included as a realistic element within the story. 

Finally, one item that stuck in my mind was on page 42 where one character refers to another as a "gluttonous fat fool". The author has explained that the two characters in question had only just gained the ability to speak and had not been taught the hurtful nature of calling  people names, as such they state the obvious without thought. There is also a point later in the book (which I will not divulge as I don't want to ruin the story for anyone) which explains why one of the characters was deliberately gorging on food during the earlier chapters. I accept that the phrase may not have been said between the characters in a malicious way, the two being best of friends, however I am still slightly uncomfortable with the way that a phrase about weight/size could be perceived as an insult/slur. 

My comments above are not intended to be criticisms of the story, but merely my thoughts whilst reading the book. I am aware of how easy it is to find issues/criticisms within a story/book when reading it for the purpose of reviewing and it is very possible  that someone reading the same book for pleasure will not notice those same issues. As such, I do not intend to run through every 'niggle' that I had with the book as most will relate to my personal taste rather than any fault with the story.

The characters are well developed and you really feel for Timothy and his friends, Leopold and Edwin, as they work together to try to save the orphanage from the hands of the hateful Mr Sterner and Ms Finn, not to mention the evil Mr Hargreaves.

Overall, I thought this was an imaginative and fun adventure story which I did enjoy. I would be happy to recommend the book to others. I would be interested to read one of his other stories in order to see how his writing style translates into other stories.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 

The book is released in electronic format and is currently for sale at the bargain price of £0.77 on Amazon UK.

About the Author

L. Sydney Abel is the pen name of Lawrence Abel. The name was inspired by L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Lawrence has always used the written word, in his song writing and more recently, in his story writing. Several of his story ideas have been whispered to him by someone unknown, usually during the twilight hours.

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Book Review: The Job by Janet Evanovich & Lee Goldberg (*advanced review copy*)

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Title: The Job (Kate O'Hare Book 3)
Author:  Janet Evanovich
Published: 18 November 2014
Publisher:  Headline
Twitter: @janetevanovich and @LeeGoldberg
Blog/website: and


He’s a charming con man and she’s a dedicated FBI agent, and they’re about to drive each other crazy . . . again! The FBI had one demand when they secretly teamed up Special Agent Kate O’Hare with charming con man Nicolas Fox—bring down the world’s most wanted and untouchable felons. This time it’s the brutal leader of a global drug-smuggling empire.  The FBI doesn’t know what their target looks like, where he is, or how to find him, but Nick Fox has a few tricks up his sleeve to oust this particular Knipschildt chocolate loving drug lord.

From the streets of Nashville to the back alleys of Lisbon, from the rooftops of Istanbul to the middle of the Thames, Nick and Kate chase their mark. When they find themselves pitted against a psychopathic bodyguard and a Portuguese enforcer who gets advice from a pickled head, they decide it’s time to enlist some special talent—talent like a machete-wielding Somali pirate, a self-absorbed actor, an Oscar-winning special effects artist, and Kate’s father, Jake, a retired Special Forces operative.  Together they could help make this Fox and O’Hare’s biggest win yet . . . if they survive.


Thanks to Random House Publishing Group - Bantam Dell and NetGalley for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I've been a huge fan of Evanovich's Plum series for a number of years, although I have not really rated the last few books, and I was therefore hugely excited to hear of another series from one of my favourite authors.

The Job is the third book in the Fox & O'Hare series. For this series, Evanovich has teamed up with Lee Goldberg, a screenwriter, TV producer and author, including the best-selling 'Monk' series.

If you haven't read the first two books, I would recommend adding them to your TBR pile. Whilst the stories do stand alone, the earlier books provide you with a background explanation as to how and why Fox and O'Hare are working together.

The story follows a standard format for the series - FBI’s Special Agent Kate O’Hare and con-man & thief Nicolas Fox work together to capture some seriously bad criminals in an elaborately creative (and largely illegal) way.

The story has an 'Oceans Eleven' feeling in the use of Fox's team of people, each with their own useful skills, including: Jake - O'Hare's ex-special forces father, Willie - the driver, Tom - the carpenter and Boyd - the actor. Fox provides the genius behind the plan/con and the team to carry out the mission. O'Hare provides the funding, some amount of legality and gun power.

As expected, the team are met with a host of surprises and obstacles along the way, but the reader knows that they will come out triumphant in the end (I don't think that I'm really spoiling the story by stating that obvious fact).

If you've read any of Evanovich's books before, then you will have a good idea as to what you're going to get out of this book. There is action & adventure within the main story, romance from the ongoing flirtation between Fox and O'Hare and humour in the situations that they get themselves caught up in.

The story is somewhat formulaic, however I think that there is a lot to like about this book. There is the 'bad guy' called Violante (a fitting name for an evil criminal), a mob enforcer who takes advice from a pickled head, elaborate cons, great interaction between all of the characters and the burgeoning relationship between Fox & O'Hare. I particularly liked that there were moments when I surprised myself by laughing out loud. This is a fast, fun and easy to read romp and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It does not have the silliness of the Plum series but is still a great light-hearted read.

I'm already looking forward to the next Fox and O'Hare adventure.

Rating: 4 out of 5 

The book is released in electronic format and is currently priced at £7.99 on Amazon UK or, alternatively, is available here in hardback for £15.99.
About the Author

Janet Evanovich is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, the Lizzy and Diesel series, twelve romance novels, the Alexandra Barnaby novels and Trouble Maker graphic novel, and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author, as well as the Fox and O'Hare series with co-author Lee Goldberg.

New York Times Bestselling author Lee Goldberg is a two-time Edgar Award and two-time Shamus Award nominee whose many TV writing and/or producing credits include "Martial Law," "SeaQuest," "Diagnosis Murder,""Hunter," "Spenser: For Hire," "Nero Wolfe," "Missing." "Monk" and "The Glades." He's also the author of the Fox & O'Hare series with Janet Evanovich (The Heist, The Chase, The Job), "The Walk," "Watch Me Die," "King City," the "Dead Man" series, as well as the "Diagnosis Murder" and "Monk" series of original mystery novels.

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Book Review: Difficult Husbands by Mary de Laszlo (*review copy*)

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Title: Difficult Husbands
Author: Mary de Laszlo
Published: 31 October 2014
Publisher:  Bookouture
Twitter: @adelica


Three friends. One surprise inheritance. And the perfect plan to deal with troublesome husbands at Christmas time…

Newly divorced Lorna is struggling to adjust to life on her own. When she discovers that her beloved godfather has left her the grand (and crumbling) Ravenscourt House in the heart of Sussex, she soon has a project on her hands.

Nathan sells delicious goodies at Mulberry Farm. When he meets Lorna at a Christmas market, neither of them can ignore the chemistry. But as they get to know one another, Lorna wants to know one thing – is he after her or the house?

Together with Gloria – whose marriage to alcoholic Adrian has hit rock bottom, and Rosalind – struggling to deal with her womanising husband Ivan, the three friends hatch a plan. They’ll ditch their difficult husbands at Ravenscourt House and enjoy stress-free Christmases with their families. But nothing is ever that simple…

An entertaining story of family, friendship and new beginnings that will delight fans of Trisha Ashley, Carole Matthews and Katie Fforde.


Thanks to Bookoutre and Net Galley for sending me a free review copy of this book.

This is a tale of family, friends and new beginnings. It deals with some difficult subjects such as marriage breakdowns, alcoholism, adultery, financial difficulties and death, whilst emphasising the importance of friendship, support and family.

I first want to say that this book was okay. Whilst the start of the book felt a bit slow going, it started so pick up half way through. It is an easy read and the story had potential. However, I also found some parts of it incredibly irritating.

Lorna, the main protagonist, seemed somewhat feeble to me. Married young to a much older man, she feels understandably betrayed when he enters a mid-life crisis and leaves her for a younger woman.

Gloria, a supporting character, is in a similar situation, except that her older husband is an alcoholic, refusing to seek help for his problems.

Finally, there is Rosalind, whose older husband is ignoring his wife and children whilst focusing his attention on worthy causes. We learn very little about Rosalind and it feels as though she is only there to add another 'difficult husband' to the mix.

The ladies feel as though their husbands (and ex-husband) are ruining and endangering their relationships with their children, so when Lorna inherits a large country house they come up with a plan to leave the husbands stranded in the countryside for Christmas.
Unfortunately, whilst the story had potential, there are areas where the story could have been improved, such as going into more depth about their lives before the problems and by considering the husbands' point of view. No mention is made of any fault on the wives’ part in contributing to the failing marriages or that upon retirement the men may have realised that they have simply grown apart from their younger wives and need to find something new in their lives. There are always two sides to every story and this book very clearly only presents one side of the coin.

I didn't feel that I could really empathise with the characters, maybe because I am younger and have never been in a similar situation to them, but also because I did not like the way in which they reacted to their difficulties. Why, when informed of her daughter's premature labour, did Lorna become hysterical to the extent that she was unable to continue with the call or have a coherent thought? I did not understand this.

In additon, the author seemed to feel the need to keep re-emphasising the theme of the difficult husbands and not in a very subtle fashion. This inserted a degree of repetition into the story which felt unnecessary.

In addition, I felt as though the author was not just telling a story, but also putting forward her own strong views about subjects to the point that I felt this book to be almost a piece of propoganda. She obviously has quite a strong dislike of anti-depressants, referring on a number of occasions to how Lorna's husband went off the rails after being given medication by his doctor. She also appears to be opposed to age differences within marriages. The story contains numerous digs at older men marrying younger women, with mentions of impotence and disgust at the idea of an older man fathering a child with a younger woman. The author really seems to be intent on showing a stereotypical view of older men going though mid-life crises and what women should expect when marrying an older man. It has an odd feeling of bitterness to it.

There were some other aspects within the story which I found difficult to relate to. For example, Lorna’s children expecting that their divorced parents would be spending Christmas together. In a world where divorce now seems, regrettably, to be the norm, I do not know any children of divorced parents who would expect those parents to still come together at Christmas. For the children in this story to make such an issue of their mother refusing to contemplate this idea, seems unlikely and unrealistic.

On a positive note, the book seemed (other than a couple of typo's) to be well edited and I quite liked De Laszlo's style of writing, however the story would have been more enjoyable for me had is focused more on the story of the inherited house and Nathan, rather than the depressing storyline involving the husbands.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

The book is released in electronic format and is currently priced at £0.99 on Amazon UK.  

About the Author

Mary De Laszlo

Mary de Laszlo worked for Queen Magazine in the 1960s. She also worked in Paris, in the fashion department of Jardins des Modes. She now lives in London and writes full time.

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Book Review: Tagged for Death by Sherry Harris (*advanced review copy*)

Photograph taken from

Title: Tagged for Death
Author: Sherry Harris
Published: 2 December 2014
Publisher:  Kensington Books
Twitter: @SHarrisAuthor


Starting your life over at age thirty-eight isn't easy, but that's what Sarah Winston finds herself facing when her husband CJ runs off with a 19-year-old temptress named Tiffany. Sarah's self-prescribed therapy happily involves hitting all the garage and tag sales in and around her small town of Ellington, Massachusetts. If only she could turn her love for bargain hunting into a full-time career. 

One man's junk is another man's treasure

But after returning from a particularly successful day searching for yard sale treasures, Sarah finds a grisly surprise in one of her bags: a freshly bloodied shirt…that undoubtedly belongs to her ex, CJ, who now happens to be Ellington's chief of police. If that's not bad enough, it seems Tiffany has gone missing. Now it's up to Sarah to prove that her cold-hearted ex is not a cold-blooded killer…

But finding that treasure can be murder.


Thanks to Kensington Books and Net Galley for sending me a free review copy of this book.
According to Sherry Harris' website, this book is the first in the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series and I am pleased to say that I found this cozy mystery thoroughly entertaining read.

The main character, Sarah, is a former military wife who's ex-husband is now head of the local police force. Despite her ex-husband having cheated, almost everyone has taken his side following the divorce leaving Sarah living in an area with few friends, no ties and continuing to volunteer on the base. When her love-rival goes missing and evidence points to her ex-husband, Sarah is faced with the dilemma of whether to take her problems to the local police or whether to stand behind her ex-husband and prove that he is not a cold-blooded killer.

I wasn't sure about the beginning of the book. It seemed unlikely that the local police would be harrassing their chief's ex-wife without good reason and without him knowing about it. I also fail to see the point of the 'gun shot' telephone calls and didn't really feel that those added much to the story, although this makes a bit more sense towards the end of the book.

I thought the writing was good and there was good detail about life on the military base. These insights were interesting, although as a non-military person myself I cannot say how accurate those refernces were.

I wasn't hugely keen on some of the supporting characters as they seemed, to me, to be quite nasty individuals. I was also not overly keen on her ex-husband, CJ. I felt he lacked backbone in not fighting for his marriage when he obviously did not want it to end. There was little indication that he had fully explained the circumstances of his indiscretion to his wife. I also found it odd that CJ did not appear to be doing a great deal of investigating into the missing girl even though all evidence pointed to him having been involved in the disappearance. Surely, as the police chief, he would be doing more to ensure that he was exonerated?

I am pleased to say that I did not guess who the killer was and that, for me, is a huge bonus in a mystery story. I like there to be an element of surprise at the end when I discover 'who dunnit'.

I thought this was an enjoyable cozy mystery story and I'm looking forward to the next book in this series.

Rating: 3 out of 5

The book is released in electronic format and is currently priced at £2.95 on Amazon UK

About the Author

Profile photo Sherry Harris started bargain hunting in second grade at her best friend’s yard sale. She honed her bartering skills as she moved around the country while her husband served in the Air Force. Sherry combines her love of garage sales, her life as a military spouse, and her years living in Massachusetts as inspiration for the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series. Tagged for Death, first in the series, will be out in December 2014.
Sherry is a member of Sisters in Crime, Sisters in Crime New England, and the Chessie Chapter of Sisters in Crime.
Sherry, her husband, and guard dog Lily are living in northern Virginia until they figure out where they want to move to next.
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Book Review: Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich

Monday, 17 November 2014
Photograph taken from
Title: Takedown Twenty
Author: Janet Evanovich
Published:19 November 2013
Publisher:  Headline Review
Twitter: @janetevanovich


Stephanie Plum has her sights set on catching a notorious mob boss. If she doesn't take him down, he may take her out.

New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum knows better than to mess with family. But when powerful mobster Salvatore "Uncle Sunny" Sunucchi goes on the lam in Trenton, it's up to Stephanie to find him. Uncle Sunny is charged with murder for running over a guy (twice), and nobody wants to turn him in - not his poker buddies, not his bimbo girlfriend, not his two right-hand men, Shorty and Moe. Even Trenton's hottest cop, Joe Morelli, has skin in the game, because - just Stephanie's luck - the godfather is his actual godfather. And while Morelli understands that the law is the law, his old-world grandmother, Bella, is doing everything she can to throw Stephanie off the trail.

It's not just Uncle Sunny giving Stephanie the run-around. Security specialist Ranger needs her help to solve the bizarre death of a top client's mother, a woman who happened to play bingo with Stephanie's Grandma Mazur. Before Stephanie knows it, she's working side by side with Ranger and Grandma at the senior centre, trying to catch a killer on the loose - and the bingo balls are not rolling in their favour. 

With bullet holes in her car, henchmen on her tail, and a giraffe named Kevin running wild in the streets of Trenton, Stephanie will have to up her game for the ultimate takedown.


I'm a big fan of Janet Evanovich and have been for about 10 years, when I first read one of the 'Plum' series. Some of the books in the series are better than others, however they always make me laugh more than most other books that I have read.

This book is number 20 in the 'Plum' series and features bounty hunter Stephanie Plum and the regular cast members - her partner in crime and ex-hooker Lula, wrinkly Grandma Mazur, mysteriously sexy Ranger and hot cop, Joe Morelli - along with an escaped giraffe running wild in Trenton.

I've seen a number of reviews, both good and bad, and I have to say that this was not my favourite book in the series. In fact, it is probably one of the weaker ones. The book was somewhat predictable with Stephanie's car problems and klutzy nature, her inability to decide between Ranger and Morelli, Lula's unique dress sense, Grandma Mazur's obsession with dead bodies etc... basically, the books are quite similar just with a different murder scenario and a different killer. Don't get me wrong, I still found a few laughs in this book and I like some of the predictability of the characters, however the book feels rushed, as though written to meet a deadline rather than with a good plot in mind. It feels almost like a 'filler' in the series rather than a stand-out good story.

The main draw for me about the book is the humour and the characters. The story is designed to be silly and fun. There is no pretence to great literature, just laughs and escapism. Unfortunately, there was not quite enough of those moments to make me really enjoy this book.

I thought the earlier books in the series were much better and, being a huge Plum fan, I'm sorry to say that maybe it is time for the author to bring the series to a conclusion or, possibly, to wait longer between the books until some new inspiration hits.

Saying that, I am still a huge Janet Evanovich fan and I'm looking forward to giving her new series a try.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The book is released in electronic format at £3.99 or paperback edition at £6.39 on Amazon UK.

About the Author

Image of Janet Evanovich 
No. 1 bestselling author Janet Evanovich is the recipient of the Crime Writers' Association's John Creasey Memorial, Last Laugh and Silver Dagger awards, as well as the Left Coast Crime's Lefty award, and is the two-time recipient of the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association's Dilys award.

She lives in New Hampshire, where she is at work on her next Stephanie Plum adventure.

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Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

Saturday, 8 November 2014

I was recently nominated for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award by Laura from Boats Against The Current. Thank you for the nomination! Here are the rules: 

1. Thank the blogger that nominated you, and link back to their site.

2. Post the award’s logo onto your blog.

3. Answer the 10 questions you’ve been asked.

4. Nominate 10 bloggers.

5. Set 10 new questions for your nominees.

So here goes!

Laura's Questions

1. Which book character would you like as a best friend?

    Stephanie Plum from Janet Evanovich's series of books. Her life is a comedy of errors but I 
    certainly wouldn't get bored!

2. Is there any genre of book that just doesn’t interest you at all?

    Whilst I will give anything a try, I'm really not that interested in Si-fi books or non-fiction books 
    about wars. I'm sure there are some that would fall into those categories which I would enjoy but, 
    in general, they really don't interest me.

3. How did you name your blog?

    Early on in our relationship, before we were married, my husband sent me a very funny drunken  
    text in which he called me his 'Ginger Cat'. I wanted my blog to be anonymous when I first started 
    it and it seemed like a good name to use - me, but not recognisable by anyone else.

4. How often do you re-read books?

    There's not many books I re-read but I have a few favourites which I could read over and over   
    again. There are so many books published and so little time. I probably re-read a book once or 
    twice a year and the rest of my reading list will be books brand new to me.

5. Have you ever abandoned a book series half way through?

    No. There are a few books that I've abandoned half way through, but never a whole series (or at
    least not that I can remember). 

6. If you had to be trapped in an elevator with three book characters, who would they be?

    My first choice would have to be one of the Harry Potter wizards, maybe Mrs Weasley, who could 
    magic us out of the lift. My second choice would be Jeeves from PG Wodehouse, as he would 
    certainly have a clever idea about how to get us out of the lift (if magic didn't work!). My third 
    and final choice would be Helena Henry, the ghost from Jana De Leon's hilarious Mudbug series. 
    As a ghost, she would be able to walk through the doors and go looking for help to get us out!

    As you can tell, I'm a hugely practical person, so rather than thinking who I would rather spend 
    time with, I've chosen 3 people who might help get me out of the lift quicker!

7. Is there any song that reminds you of a certain book?

    This is a difficult question! I'm going to say 'All By Myself' when I'm re-reading Bridget Jones' 
    Diary. Since seeing the film, the soundtrack plays along in my head whilst I'm reading it!

8. Where is your favourite place to read?

    Easy question - snuggled up in bed with my old-lady-style V-shaped pillow behind me and a cup  
   of tea on the bedside table.

9. Have you given any books negative reviews, and why?

    I've only be reviewing books for a very short time and I have not yet had to write a negative 
    review. I try to appreciate the positives in every book and understand that whilst I might not like it, 
    others will do, so I hope that if I ever do write a negative review, I will be objective and not be too 
    negative unnecessarily.

10. If you could write your own memoir, what would the title be?

      This is an incredibly difficult question. It would probably be my most often-used saying "Give 
      me one more minute, I just need to finish this chapter..."

My Questions

1. Can you name 3 books that you would recommend to everyone?

2. Who is your all-time favourite character from a book?

3. Do you prefer paperback, hardback or E-copy?

4. What is the next book on your 'to be read' pile?

5.  Is there any book which completely surprised you? If so, why?

6.  Do you prefer to watch a film adaptation before or after you read a book, or not at all?

7.  If you were offered a free book of your choice right now, which one would you pick and why?

8. What is the last book you read that you could not finish and why?

9. What book have you re-read the most times?

10. Whay book, if any, did you have to read for school but ended up really enjoying?

My Nominations

I am not sure who has or hasn’t been nominated for this, so the list is shorter than it’s supposed to be, and I may still be re-nominating, so don’t feel obliged to participate!

Karen @ My Reading Corner

Courtney @ Confessions of a Book Blogger

Amanda @ Chocolate Pages

Dot @ Dot Scribbles

These are all blogs that I enjoy reading and would love to see their responses!

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